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September 30, 2013

Mark Gottfried breaks down new-look squad



Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried broke down his team in-depth at Monday's media day. The coach talked for about 20 minutes with the press and here were some of the highlights from individual player breakdowns, as well as some other subjects.

On his team: They're real excited, I'm excited for these guys. I think they like the fact that they hear and read that the expectations are for them to not be very good, quite frankly. They like the challenge behind that, so I think they're ready to go. It's a great time of year.

On T.J. Warren's weight loss: I think T.J. has spent the spring, summer and fall working extremely hard. He's done a great job. He's been in the gym as much as anybody and he's been with our strength coach, Bob Alejo, as much as anybody. He's a very dedicated guy that wants to have a great year.

Last year, I think he had a terrific freshman year. He gets it, he understands now that this is a different team, the make-up of our team is going to be different. He's going to be the focal point at times, more than he was a year ago. He understands all of those things pretty well and I think he just seems to be tremendously motivated to be very good.

He's in great physical shape right now, he has lost I think close to 20 pounds and it's a good 20 pounds; he's still strong and I think he even added muscle. He's in a position to have a very good year.

On where Warren fits in to the offense: He can play on the perimeter and I think he can play inside at times, depends on who the match-ups are and how we need to play. If we have to play four guards with him being considered a bigger guard, we're OK with that.

I think the challenge that we've made for T.J. is we know that he can score, everybody understands that, but he has to be a very good defender and a very good rebounder. We need his rebounding this year as much as anything.

That's something every day that we talk to him about. That's the goal for him, is to continue to be a good offensive player, but make sure that he's a great player in every aspect - a great teammate, a great player, a great rebounder, which he can do. He can do all of those things.

Like I said, I think he had a terrific offseason as far as how his body has become. I think he's ready to have a good year.

On the freshmen forwards: Our freshmen have been here since July 1 and I think they've all done very well. Now, they're all different.

BeeJay [Anya] is a guy that has the potential to be a very good player. He's a little heavy right now, we all know that, and he's got a long ways to go.

Lennard [Freeman] has been a little bit of a surprise, to be real honest. Now, we haven't started practice yet, but in the workouts and those type of things, he's done very well. He's proven to us already that he's going to be a very good rebounder, a very good defender.

The sky is the limit with Kyle Washington. He's long, eager, willing and excited every day when he walks in. He's got a phenomenal attitude and he's got great energy.

Typically for young people what happens most of the time is they have a good day, then a kind of not so good day then the next one has a good day and they kind of trade off with who is doing well at different times. That's part of being young, but we're excited about all three of them. We really are and their potential.

Now the question for us is going to be how quickly can those guys become contributors?

On eligible transfer guards Ralston Turner and Desmond Lee: I think Ralston and Desmond are different in that Ralston has played in the SEC. Ralston has played at Kentucky, at Tennessee, he's been on the road and understands it a little bit. Desmond is older as a junior college player, but he hasn't really been in that environment just yet, he hasn't scored a basket at the division I level.

Typically, a lot of times when you look back at this level at the guys who played at junior college, sometimes it takes them a little while. There's an adjustment period for them and he may go through that. We'll see, I'm not sure just yet. He's got a chance to be really good. He's a player that's kind of good at everything. He's a good defender, good passer, pretty good shooter, good ball handler, makes good decisions, rebounds well for a guard and he just does a lot of things well, but it's going to be an adjustment for him to play at this level in the ACC.

Like I said, Ralston is a little difference, he has played. Ralston has also had the year here in our program, where he has practiced with us. He understands our offense, our terminology and everything we're doing. In that regard, he's probably a little bit ahead of a lot of the guys because he has that.

On players handling different roles: This is going to be a completely different environment now. You've got a lot of guys that have not played at this level.

If you think about our team this year, T.J. Warren has scored some baskets for us, but he scored them in a support role. Really, he never had to score a lot every single night; Richard [Howell] did, Calvin [Leslie] did, Scott [Wood] did, those guys had to play every night. T.J. could kind of bob and weave a little bit as far as have a good game then maybe a not so good game. He's in a different role this year.

Tyler [Lewis], who had the three games when Lorenzo was out and he was really, really good, but he didn't play a lot. He hasn't scored a lot of baskets. Jordan Vandenberg has not done a lot here, and really those are the only guys [that have played].

We tried to make a highlight film of the returning players and it's three guys. You only got three guys on the tape, so our team is way different, but I think that's fun, it's exciting, it's a challenge for our guys and for us, so we like it.

On Tyler Lewis: I think Tyler has had a really good spring, summer and fall. I think when the year ended last year, my challenge for Tyler was get a little stronger, get a little tougher - not that he wasn't tough before - but he's got to be a little more ornery, if I'm saying that right, during games. He has to take more charges, he's got to get on the floor more, he's got to be a little bit more vocal as a leader, he has to step forward and have a presence; and he has to get better.

He has done all of those things, to be real honest. As we start here on the first of October, I think Tyler has done or tried to do everything we've asked, in that regard. He has gotten stronger. He's being more vocal every day, whether they're out on the track or in here playing pick-up games. He's stepping forward a little bit more as a leader and I think he's gotten better as a player, too.

From April to October, I think he's done a terrific job for what we've asked him to do. Now, he has to take the next step here as we go into October and into the season. I think he's gotten a lot stronger, which is really important for him and his body, he needed that, so he's done a good job there.




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